LEN CAPELING: Hurricane Hurricane Rooney Blows Welsh Apart

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), October 11, 2004 | Go to article overview

LEN CAPELING: Hurricane Hurricane Rooney Blows Welsh Apart


Byline: LEN CAPELING

ON a day when the wonder of Wayne, rather than the wonder of Wales, kept us enthralled, the real regret was that England's most important player didn't score the hat-trick he threatened throughout this World Cup walkover.

At 18, Wayne Rooney, late of Everton, has made himself the fountain from which so many fine things flow for Sven-Goran Eriksson's side.

Positioned just behind one out and -out striker -- it would have been two had Jermain Defoe ever showed -- he dispensed possession so well that his supposed manmarker, former Goodison teammate Mark Pembridge, became dizzy and needed to be put out of his misery before the end.

In this mood, Rooney is simply too potent and powerful to be contained. He makes his own rules.

Inside his head he is three moves ahead of his opponent as he showed with surging runs beyond the front men and fluid passing requiring contact to kill even the most awkwardly bouncing ball.

Wales did make things comfortable for England with an astonishingly bloodless approach. Devoid of passion, there was never a hint of the dragon's fire.

That assisted Rooney in his free-ranging role. Of course it did.

But the boy prince has shone against better teams than that Mark Hughes was able to put out. So the paucity of opposition ought not to not detract from another sorcerer's show from a hugely gifted apprentice.

If he wasn't playing Michael Owen through the narrowest of gaps, he was striding forward towards mere mortals who saw a hurricane approaching and wanted nothing better to do than hide from it.

One dazzling raid took him past three despairing defenders, before a shot raked just wide.

Paul Jones had a last-second glimpse of a 30-yard piled river from Rooney that smashed through his hands and slammed against the post to his right.

anny Gabbidon, possibly Wales's best player, finally erred for once in not ferrying the ball away, but then scurried back on to the line to deflect Rooney's goal bound drive away after Michael Owen and David Beckham both fluffed chances.

The beauty of Rooney is he always demands the ball because he believes he can do most with it. And he's seldom wrong on that score.

He showed his greenness only once when he chose to shoot from the worst of positions, Jones saving well as the swifty-arriving Owen, Beckham and Defoe clutched hands to their head in horror.

However, it was a rare blemish on an afternoon of near faultless professionalism from an England line-up simply too accomplished to be denied.

Nothing worked for the Welsh in a week when a dozy EC draughts man removed the Principality from a new map of Europe.

Their overcautious strategy offered England too much of the ball while their attempts to win some width, via Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy, never materialised.

That left Wales with a single option, to hump the ball high down field in the faint hope of locating the bullet head of John Hartson, who had one of his most unproductive days for his country. …

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